Notes for a Philosophy of Private Security
(the Great Plague, the Black Death of medieval times, was blamed rightly or wrongly on a variety of these rodents.) The literature is full of referencesto the task of controlling these pests—and is rarely ﬂattering; a hint of fear-fulness pervades it.
There are those who display a particular aptitude forthe task. In most developed societies, it is seen as a needed job, along withothers involving different forms of pest control, but hardly conferring desir-able status on those who undertake it. Over the centuries, ratcatching hasacquired certain, unpleasant connotations. Somebody has to do the job (atleast until it can, like bomb detection and disposal, be reliably entrusted torobots,
but those who undertake it can hardly be expected to be liked oreven wholeheartedly respected on that account. The unlikable features of what is involved tend to color perceptions of those who perforce are en-gaged in it. The nature of what is involved in ratcatching, as a job, hardly engenders what is likely to generate respect or envy for those however suc-cessfully engaged in it. Mothers, all too ready to boast to others of “my son(or daughter) the lawyer, the surgeon, the architect,” are hardly to be foundin the uncommon ranks of those delighting and acclaiming the exploits of “my progeny the Ratcatcher.” Here, we ﬁnd ourselves in the not uncommonterritory of prejudice; what do you do for a living? Undoubtedly, this playsan important role in how you are perceived by others and thus the degreeof respect you are accorded for what you do and how you appear to doit.
We hesitate to associate ourselves favorably with those who do certainkinds of tasks for fear, somehow, of contagion. Status has grown ever moreimportant in modern society. The new “social media” is hardly the place toboast of being a ratcatcher, if you are interested in attracting the “right” kindof friends on Facebook, or the “right” partner on Match.com.
From the foregoing, the ratcatcher proposition can be synthesized asfollows: In our culture, ratcatching is perceived as a nasty, undesirable job (itis immaterial, here, that there are others much worse). However, necessary,only nasty, undesirable persons are thought of as peculiarly ﬁtted for thejob. Ergo, ratcatching, for a living is a nasty, undesirable job done by nasty,undesirable people, not the sort you would wish to associate with as friendsor social equals.
DEALING WITH OTHER KINDS OF RATS
Comparatively recently, we have begun to expend a good deal of time andeffort in trying to professionalize the practice of private security by asserting,boldly, its scientiﬁc characteristics.
Indeed, it might be said that this very Journal owes existence, in great part, to those endeavors. Unfortunately,much of this effort has resulted merely in a proliferation of writings of allkinds largely incomprehensible to the average security practitioner, and of-ten enough, to those relevant areas of academia at whom much of this